Monday, November 21, 2011

Going Solo on the Salmon

Here it is, Nov. and time to think steelhead! Once again Rob and I have a trip booked for the Salmon River in N.Y. I can’t wait to head out and see what happens this year.

The last trip to Pulaski was interesting. Lisa and I headed up for what was to be her first trip to Pulaski. It was the busiest and craziest weekend I have ever seen. Just as I pulled off the highway I knew something was terribly different judging from the amount of traffic that was in town. The weather was nice – almost too nice with temperatures in the high 70’s to low 80’s. The water was way low with 450cfs and warm. These conditions were a perfect combination for fishing. There were guys all over the place and I told Lisa I had never seen it that mad crazy before.

Something else happened that we weren’t prepared for  which was our guide could not make the trip we had scheduled. There was a very sad tragedy that his family had to deal with. We were 15 minutes out of Pulaski when we received the call and while he was still willing to come on up, Lisa and I were adament that he not. We were grateful that he was concerned about our trip and our fishing experience but, as Lisa put it, “Time to put on your big girl panties, Mary and show me around the river.” Good thing it was dark ‘cause she could not see the look of “holy shit what are we gonna do now??” that was on my face.

So after the initial shock that we were solo I took inventory of our fishing gear late that night. Pickings were limited because we were planning on the guide taking care of all that "stuff". But I had enought equipment that I put together some leaders for Lisa, found my strike indicators and got her rigged up for some right angle high stick work. Not sure why but I even brought an assortment of flies and some spare rods. So all in all we lucked out and weren't totally caught with our pants down.I gave her a quick “how to” on high sticking and that was all the time we had. It was a short  night for sleep and the 5am alarm to get up and go to the Douglaston Salmon Run (DSR) was brutal. Lisa was psyched. Me? Holy shit. How was this going to work out?!

Down at the DSR we geared up using the light from the car. Yeah, didn’t pack any headlamps or so it took us a while. The parking lot was crowded and guys were all over the place getting ready or already standing in line ready to charge to the river.  Eventrually we headed to The Flats which was already packed. Joss Hole was not packed....yet. We made our first stop there and I started to teach Lisa how to high stick. She took to it quite easily but as the crowd started to build neither one of us wanted to stay. She fishes like I do – on the move and avoiding too many people.

All day Saturday I walked her all over the lower portion of the river trying for different spots while looking for faster water. We walked up, down, over here,over there you name it.  We saw plenty of fish but they were on the move. And unless you were lucky enough to have planted yourself at a deeper pocket and never moved you were lucky. I have never seen as many salmon moving up the river as I did that weekend. It was really cool to take a break and just watch those big fish blast up the skinny water. I think I might have overdone it because Sunday morning I thought Lisa was dead – she just kept on sleeping.

Sunday was a repeat and we were a bit better prepared for the day. I showed her Altmar where it was really,really, crazy, drove along the river by Ellis Cove where cars were jammed not only in the parking lot but also in the street.  We stopped at Compactor Pool but some of the guys there were creepy and neither one of us felt welcome so we headed back to the DSR.

Sunday was another long day; the river was just as packed but we still had a good time. No, scratch that. We had a fantastic time. Lisa is hooked and would like to return so we are considering the possibilty of a trip in Feb.

It looks like I have also created a monster. Last Saturday Lisa and I met at the Farmington for some fall fishing. She had mentioned that she would like to learn how to use a two handed rod so that is what we did for part of the afternoon. Last night I got a text message from her saying she told her husband she would soon be looking for a two handed rod. She said "he didn’t  say no” which in her mind (and I agree) means YES and that he just keeps shaking his head when he sees her walking around the house air casting. With any luck she will meet up with Jerry Jahn and Fred Krowchenko on the river next Sunday.

As for my next trip? Well, we certainly are looking forward to it. The weather should be good and hopefully no whiteout conditions like last year will appear. The water is still low but what the heck can you do about that? Nothing.